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Mathew Oluwaseun
University of Ilorin (Unilorin)
Mechanical Engineering
500Level, Nigeria.
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Persons living with Albinism (PWAs), have little or no melanin in their skin to protect them from the harmful sun rays. Melanin is the agent of sun protection that naturally gives humans protection from the sun. The darker the skin, the more melanin it produces. The lighter the skin, the less melanin it produces. For most people with albinism, it will be impossible to stay out of the sun completely; so when out during daylight hours, PWAs are expected to be adequately protected from the Ultraviolet rays of the sun.

Albinism is an inherited condition characterised by a substantially lower rate of melanin production. Melanin is the pigment responsible for the colour of the skin, hair, and eyes. People with albinism often have lighter coloured skin and hair than the other members of their family or ethnic group. Vision problems are common among them. Melanin normally protects the skin from damages from the UV rays; so people with albinism are more sensitive to sun exposure and an increased consistent exposure leads to a high risk of skin cancer in the near future.

How is Albinism inherited?
Among the many misconceptions about Albinism, the following are recurrent: PWAs have only red eyes; they cannot go outside during the day; their body parts can cure HIV; they are cursed beings hence they are evil.
There are two main types of albinism. They are:

Oculocutaneous albinism (OCA) – the most common type, affecting the skin, hair and eyes.
Ocular albinism (OA) – a rarer type that mainly affects the eyes
Some Albinism Facts
Here are some key points about albinism:

1. There is no cure for albinism, but some symptoms can be treated.
2. Albinism is a genetic condition.
3. Primarily, albinism affects the hair, eyes, skin, and vision.
4. The most common cause of albinism is an interruption in the functioning of the enzyme tyrosinase.
5. An estimated 1 in 70 people carry the genes associated with albinism.
6. After exposure to the sun, some people with albinism might develop freckles and moles, usually pink in colour due to the reduced quantities of pigment.

Lifestyle Tips
1. Protect yourself from the sun. It is important to use sunscreen on exposed parts of your skin. Even more important is the need to wear a hat that covers the face, ears, and neck along with protective clothing that will keep sun rays from penetrating through to the skin. The thicker the clothing and the more skin it covers, the more protection you will have from the sun. You don’t have to look drab, you can choose trendy and fashionable styles to accentuate your beauty.

People with albinism should use sun protection cream of SPF 50 or higher; reapply every two hours or more often if you are swimming or perspiring and report any new moles or other skin changes to a doctor.

2. For the eyes, wear UV protective sunglasses as the eyes and the skin around them are extremely vulnerable to developing cancerous cells. Learn how to avoid the sun between 10 am and 4 pm when the sun’s rays are strongest and harmful.

3. Stay hydrated, drink lots of water. It helps to keep your skin fresh because it is the number one natural detoxifier.

4. Eat healthy meals. You can never go wrong with a good diet because a healthy diet can help you look and feel your best. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. Research shows that a diet rich in fish oil or its supplements and low in unhealthy fats and processed or refined carbohydrates might promote younger looking skin.

5. Exercise and manage your stress. Uncontrolled stress can make your skin more sensitive, trigger acne breakout and other skin problems. So, to enjoy a healthy skin and a healthy state of mind; get enough sleep, as often as you can, you stretch your muscles and engage more in physical activities that enhance your body fitness. Exercise right.

6. Use moisturiser and avoid insect bites and injuries that might take a while to heal or leave scars. Avoid strong soaps and detergents, use mild soap use warm water for bathing.

7. Lastly, live a healthy lifestyle. Take good rests, worry less, do that which makes you come alive!

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